Sunday, July 26, 2015

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link

Imaginative stories about rips in reality

Funny little elves, spaceships, superheroes, superhero sidekicks and sad complex people with two shadows. These are the characters inhabiting Link’s wildly imaginative short stories. The opening story, “The Summer People,” is about “they”, the strange fairy-like creatures living in the house behind teenager Fran’s ramshackle cabin. Fran has inherited their eternal caretaking duties from her mother, who lit out a long time ago. Now Fran feels a yearning to travel. And who should show up on her doorstep but a helpful young schoolmate. So the story is two things at once, an exploration of working class resentment, as well as a classic folklorish tale. The second-to-last story, “Two Houses,” is also haunting, about a mostly female spaceship crew on their hundred year journey and a night when they tell ghost stories.

“The Summer People” is a wonderful story, inventive and lively, with a spine built from classic fairy tales. The reader soon figures out exactly where the story is going but hangs on for the entrancing ride. After that one, for the most part, the stories seemed thin and overlong. It shows you how much narrative power essential folklore has. I was so excited after reading the first one, but after reading the next couple, I grew bored, and I wondered if this was going to be one of those collections in which the first story is stupendous, gripping and exciting, and the rest are passionless puzzles. But I plugged onwards, which was good because the final two stories were much more compelling.

I loved how in almost every story the situation starts off normally, then takes on elements of surreality. Once something surreal is introduced, it is introduced in so commanding a fashion the reader instantly accepts it. The reader truly is enthralled, which is what I am looking for when I read. Each story is also an attempt at world creation, made more difficult when the laws of physics are changed or ignored. Although in many instances, the stories were overlong, and the stakes a little low. Sometimes it was too much like, will he ask me on a date.

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